Episode 49 – Iranian Crimes, Swedish Justice with Aida Samani and Gissou Nia

Aida Samani (top left) and Gissou Nia (top right) get us up to speed on the Iran court case in Sweden

Our most faithful listeners will have by now realised that we are very interested in universal jurisdiction, since we have talked about it multiple times (here, here, here and here). This time we are going to dissect a very recent case which started being heard in Sweden in August.

An Iranian 60 year old citizen was apprehended in Stockholm in late 2019, and has now to defend himself from very heavy war crimes accusations. He allegedly took active part in the so-called 1988 Iranian massacre, when over 5000 political prisoners were summarily executed in the span of 3 months.

A trial of this kind, which could never take place in Iran under current conditions, has the potential of showing the way in prosecuting these kinds of crimes committed in the country, crimes which families still suffer the consequences from, having being denied closure for decades.

To discuss this case and its implications for citizens of Iran and members of its diaspora, we turned to Gissou Nia – Board Chair of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center and Head of Strategic Litigation at the Atlantic Council – and Aida Samani – Legal Advisor to Civil Rights Defenders, an NGO based in Stockholm – who are both closely monitoring the trial.

We will keep tabs on the situation and further comment on it in due time.

New episode also means new recommendations! Gissou is just about to start Thieves of State by Sarah Chayes; plus, for the listeners interested in learning more about Iran and its quashing of political dissent, she suggests Assassins of the Turquoise Palace by Roya Hakakian and Black Wave by Kim Ghattas. Aida instead offered a couple of lighter suggestions: she is currently reading On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong and re-watching Succession on HBO (which Janet also endorses).


This podcast has been produced as part of a partnership with JusticeInfo.net, an independent website in French and English covering justice initiatives in countries dealing with serious violence. It is a media outlet of Fondation Hirondelle, based in Lausanne, Switzerland.